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  • Writer's pictureCollin Souter

Week # 40: "Aladdin"

(Originally published on 10/7/22)



Run time: 90 min.

Release Date: November 25, 1992.

Where/when I first saw it: I honestly don’t remember which theater, but I did see it when it came out

How I watched it today: Blu-ray, Tuesday evening

Watching this after “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast,” you get the sense of the studio settling in and coasting a bit on their successful new formula. They have the songwriters (Menken and Ashman), they have the princess, the love story, the arranged marriage plot, the villain with a humorous sidekick. Everything’s there that people would come to expect now from this new, revitalized Disney studio. This time, though, they added a crucial element to separate it from the rest: Robin Williams.

At the time, of course, Williams was perhaps the biggest, most well known comedian around. His comedic style and delivery would prove to be just what the fairy tale formula needed to add a bit of unpredictable zaniness. Of course, it was not as easy as him just doing shtick in the microphone and them animating stuff to go with it. All that improv had to be edited in a way that flowed, got laughs and kept the story moving. Not as easy as it sounds and I’m sure it took a lot of discipline to edit stuff out that they thought was hilarious. “Aladdin” does move along nicely and the two lead characters are charming enough to be invested in them, even when the genie is not around.

It should also be noted that the team was smart to also hire another comedian to be part of the adversary, Gilbert Gottfried. He is also very funny and adds a nice touch of sarcasm to the proceedings where it sorely needs it. That is not to say “Aladdin” ODs on schmaltz. It has just enough of everything for everyone, but it has the disadvantage of coming in third after two movies that never needed a comedian to come in and shake things up. Without Williams and Gottfried, there are just some nice songs (actually, some great ones) that I’m sure played well on the Adult Contemporary Stations and some pretty scenery, as well as some cultural appropriation that could come off as a bit cringey today.


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